[As provided by the Harris County Flood Control District]
1. OPEN MEETING
Harris County Flood Control Task Force Vice Chairman Steve Hupp opened the meeting at 2:03 p.m.
2. ROLL CALL
Sandra Ortiz called the roll. There were 17 members present, with member Ranney McDonough serving as proxy for member Larry Bellatti; member James Vick serving as proxy for member Roksan Okan-Vick; and Vice Chairman Hupp serving as proxy for Chairman Al Flores.
A quorum was present.
Vice Chairman Hupp welcomed two interns with the Bayou Preservation Association: Breanne Martin, an environmental health major at Texas Southern University, and Drew Zimmerman, a civil engineering major at Valparaiso University.
Myron Jones, newly appointed Harris County Flood Control District Precinct Coordinator for Harris County Precinct 1, also introduced himself.
3. NEW BUSINESS
A vote was taken to approve minutes of the April 24, 2017, meeting.
b. Task Force Working Group Update
Member McDonough gave a report on a preliminary meeting of the Task Force Working Group, chaired by Task Force chairman Flores, which was formed to improve communication with the public about Task Force goals and objectives, increase membership recruiting to fill current vacancies, and develop strategies to improve Task Force operations.
Members Charles Goforth, Larry Bellatti, Joe Cibor and Beth White serve with McDonough and Flores on this committee, which held its first meeting June 21.
Some of the ideas discussed include an annual briefing for Harris County Commissioners on the Task Force and its activities, and regular updates of the mailing list for Task Force member organizations to make sure the agenda and minutes are sent to the best person.
McDonough said the Working Group intends to look at Task Force objectives to see how they can be improved. He urged members to gather and submit names to fill Task Force vacancies to Sandra Ortiz.
c. Bayou Greenways
Member Beth White, CEO and President of the Houston Parks Board, and Lisa Kasianowitz, Outreach Manager for HPB, gave an update on the Bayou Greenways 2020 effort.
White noted that the HPB is a 40-year-old non-profit that advocates for Houston parks. Bayou Greenways is described as a transformative campaign to add parks and trails along Houston’s nine major bayous, creating a 150-mile network of new and newly connected trails providing access to 3,000 acres of greenspace. When complete, White said, six of ten Houstonians will live within 1.5 miles of a greenway.
Following a successful 2012 bond election in which 68 percent of Houston voters approved $100 million in bonds for the effort, HPB is working to raise an additional $120 million and has only $15 million left to go.
White noted that the Flood Control District is one of many important partners in this effort, making its flood control land – when appropriate and not needed for drainage purposes — available for greenway projects.
Kasianowitz gave a progress report, stating there are now 60 miles of trails in the network, linking 1,422 acres of greenspace. Eventually there will be 30 miles of trails along Brays Bayou, 19 miles along Sims Bayou and 15 miles along White Oak Bayou.
Along the way, aging asphalt trails are being replaced with 10-foot-wide concrete trails, while bridges and ornamental rest areas have been added, along with linear parks and links to neighborhoods and schools.
HPB is also looking to the future with a “Beyond the Bayous” plan that aims to provide north/south connections to Bayou Greenways via utility easements, and other means.
d. HCFCD Update
Flood Control District Executive Director Russ Poppe gave a report on the Flood Control District recent annual trip to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressional leaders and Administration executives. He noted that over the last five years, the federal government has been the source of an average of $20 million per year, which adds to the $60 million per year budgeted for new capital projects in Harris County.
Poppe reported that “new start” funding for Flood Control District projects in Hunting Bayou and elsewhere is still in doubt, although very much needed in Harris County. A $3 million, three-year federal study to address changing conditions affecting operations of Addicks and Barker reservoirs is also under discussion.
Poppe also reported that the Flood Control District’s recent 2017-2018 Capital Improvements Program, submitted in June 2017, represents the fifth year in a row of $60 million CIPs, with no increase during that time. Another $12 million is carved out in that fiscal year for repairing damaged infrastructure. The Tax Day 2016 Flood alone caused an estimated $30 million in damages to flood control infrastructure.
Poppe also noted that while roughly 50 percent of the county experienced a 100-year storm on Tax Day 2016, the 10,000 flooded structures represented a significantly lower percentage of total structures in the county.
Next regular meeting: October 23, 2017, 2 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:11 p.m.